An Introduction to Introductions

Description=Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle as Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet in a dramatisation of Jane Austen’s “Pride & Prejudice” for the BBC, pictured at Harrow School, Harrow on the Hill – 28.08.1994. Copyright Alan Weller / The Times.

I thought I had a pretty good handle on how to address a lady or gentleman of the Regency Period. In the midst of editing my latest novel, however, I’ve learned so much about the intricacies of this seemingly simple occurance. A man walks in, he says hello, the lady responds. That’s it, right?

Oh, no. There is so much more to it.

A primer

One of the things I learned through reading various blog posts was that a gentleman must ask to be introduced to a lady. And the lady may decline! She could just say, no and walk away. I find it fascinating how behaviors change over time. I feel like you couldn’t pull that off today without being called rude. Back in the Regency period, it was considered a way that a lady could protect herself from unwanted acquaintances.

Also, a person of higher rank must acknowledge you first. If they do not ask for an introduction, you cannot. Think Mr Collins embarrassing Elizabeth by going up and introducing himself to Mr Darcy, a man of superior rank. Gasp!

This knowledge has been incredibly helpful to me while crafting my stories. If you’re interested in learning more, check out these blog posts:

Making Introductions in Jane Austen’s World by Maria Grace

Introductions in the Regency Era from Historical Romance Review

10 Dos and Don’ts to Become a Lady in Regency England from The History Collection

Culzean Castle

Culzean Castle photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Let’s just take a minute to bask in the beauty of this fairy tale castle. Culzean Castle is located on the Ayrshire Cliffs of Maybole, which is on the Eastern coast of Scotland. After a little research, I picked this castle as the home of one of my characters in my current work in progress. His name is Mr Wessex, and he inherited this place from his mother’s family. Lucky guy, huh?

Mr Wessex moves from the South of England to Scotland upon his inheritance. He refuses to give up on the castle, which is my story is in need of repair and fresh funds. In actuality, this castle was built in late 18th century, maybe 30 years or so before Mr Wessex comes to own it.

I love writing fiction. Need a problem? Invent one! Need a solution? Create it!

The real Culzean Castle was designed by a gentleman named Robert Adam. Though he grew up in Scotland, Robert Adam traveled to mainland Europe to take in as much architectural knowledge as possible. When he returned to England in 1758, he and his brother John began to work hard to establish themselves. Eventually, their style came to be known as the Adam style. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, “The Adam style was marked by a new lightness and freedom in the use of the classical elements of architecture—a fresh combination of many architectural elements.” Check out the full article here for more fascinating info about Robert Adam.

The oval staircase at Culzean Castle. Photo courtesy of National Trust for Scotland

Kittens & Keets

Some days I just can’t…(Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com)

The kids and I have been on the struggle bus lately. No one seems to be able to focus. I struggle to focus on writing, and they struggle to focus on schoolwork. When we start arguing during lessons, I know it’s time to take a break from homeschooling and recharge. We typically do this by stopping table time (read: books lessons) and going on outings. We’d hit up the Cincinnati Zoo, the Cincinnati Museum Center, and ALL the playgrounds.

For obvious reasons, we can’t do that right now. The weather has been challenging, too. It’s been very rainy and unseasonably cool here. In short, we’re all feeling like you probably are: a bit out of sorts.

A solution presents itself

Last week while numbing out on my phone, I was trolling the Petfinder app and stumbled upon the Ohio Alleycat Resource & Spay/Neuter Clinic. Their website said they needed fosters for various cats and kittens. My mind started working…

I signed us up to foster cats and/or kittens. We’ve been approved and are awaiting our first fosters right now. You can imagine how often the kids ask me if OAR has texted me yet. I was feeling pretty good. We’d be helping animals, while giving ourselves new purpose and fuzzy goodness. Even my husband, though not an animal person, was okay with the plan.

And yet more weirdness for 2020

Then one night while watching Frozen II (this is relevant because Frozen II is amazing and Anna is my hero), my daughter noticed the parakeets doing something a little strange. Yep, they were mating. Dang it.

A bit of background. When we first got our parakeets, we had two males. George sadly passed away a week or two after we brought him home. We went back and got Tonks, who I thought was a boy. Nope. Turns out Tonks is female. So Fred and Tonks were together in the cage, but I wasn’t worried. They weren’t very friendly with each other (parakeet females won’t mate if they don’t approve of the male) and I was doing all the things to decrease the odds of mating (changing their cage setup regularly, not providing nesting boxes, covering their cage earlier at night).

Jeff Goldblum Life Finds A Way GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Well it turns out that Ian Malcolm was right. Life finds a way. So now I’m scrambling to learn all I can about brooding parakeets and raising ‘keet chicks. It seems doable…I think. If all goes well, we’ll have some very cute and tame young parakeets in about two months. Gulp.

I’m just hoping for a happy ending.

The Blinking Cursor

Photo by bongkarn thanyakij on Pexels.com

It goes without saying that we are living through a crazy time. I am lucky in that I can work from anywhere. I homeschool my kids, so that hasn’t changed. I always work from home when I act as the bookkeeper for my husband’s small business. I usually go to my favorite writing place, White Oak Coffee House, to work on my writing. I can’t go there right now, but surely I can write from home.

Yeah….my creative spark seems to have dimmed. My anxiety has spiked. My mind is so full of the harrowing facts of the present and the ‘what if’s’ of the future that there seems to be little room for sweeping romance.

Does this block sound familiar to anyone else? You’re definitely not alone.

Thursday is my writing day, and for the past three or four Thursdays I’ve just sat there, staring at a blinking cursor. So I decided to focus on other pursuits for a while. I finished a sweater for my daughter that I began back in December. I knit myself a cowl. And I’ve even started teaching myself how to sew, something I’ve always wanted to do.

Today I took some time and wrote out a scene that I had dreamed up (literally). I only wrote about three pages, but it still felt great.

As Mr Darcy would say, I hope you and your families are all in good health. Take very good care.

Chicken Coop Confidence

Tada! The Basic Coop from The Garden Coop

Coop Completion!

Remember back in October when I shared my plan to create The Basic Coop from The Garden Coop? Well four months later, the thing is finished! It languished in our garage for many months while I procrastinated–intimidated as I was by the size of the project.

Then one Sunday a few weeks ago, it was 60 degrees outside and I decided it was go time. Kev had already helped me measure and cut all the plywood, which was the hardest part in my opinion. And I had already treated each piece of wood with a nice sealer to keep the moisture out. It was time to assemble.

I spent the whole day working, and the kids pitched in too. They mostly helped with the painting. I love my little Irish coop, and have already bought plans for a run. It was a huge confidence builder, creating this thing from scratch. It helped me channel my inner Captain America.

And like this scene when Cap tosses Black Widow up into the air with his shield, I used the momentum I got from this completed project to complete another: Fidelity.

That’s right folks, Fidelity has been edited, beta read, re-edited, and submitted.

Photo by Maël BALLAND on Pexels.com

It will be three long months before I hear back from the particular publisher that I submitted it to, but I’m still so excited about it!

You never know. You hope for the best, then make do with what you get. - Nick Fury (Avengers: Age of Ultron Quotes)

Keep your fingers crossed!

YouTube Gems

Prepare to find a new rabbit hole.

I have a secret love: YouTube fan vids. A good fan video can transport you. I have so many favorite videos in various lists now, I realize I needed to share them! I find these videos incredibly inspirational as far as writing goes. They get my creative juices flowing.

So this here post is the first in a series. YouTube Gems that must be shared. First up, Sherlock. If you have not seen Sherlock and want to, please do not view these! Many spoilers are contained within 🙂

This firsts video is by Nyah86Production and is called “The Woman That Counted.” The music is by The Cinematic Orchestra. Enjoy!

The next video is by nolaespoir and is called “A Magic Trick.” Oh my goodness, this one is so very good! The music is “Song for Bob” by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. All. The. Feels.

Okay, now that we’re all feeling pangs in our heart, let’s go write that initial breakup scene. Stay tuned for more YouTube Gems. Next up: Doctor Who.

Music to Write By – The Foll Stones

I’ve been working on The Foll Stones for over 10 years. I started it before my daughter was born, took a long hiatus until after the birth of my son, and finished the first draft during my first attempt at NaNoWriMo. So you can imagine that the playlist for this work is long and varied!

Before I share my favorite pieces from the playlist, here is a bit about The Foll Stones:

When 19-year-old Cleona Willow and her childhood friend Brian are magically pulled from their sleepy Vermont town and thrust into the ancient land of Terratalam, they must join the quest to unite the mythical Foll Stones, or risk being trapped in the strange world forever.

The Music

One of the first scenes that I envisioned is quite dramatic. There’s a swamp, a challenge, and a life-threatening drop. The music that plays is Injection by Hans Zimmer. It’s from Mission Impossible II, of all things. It doesn’t really get good until minute 1:30 (sorry Hans).

The next of many favorites is “Ron Leaves” by Alexandre Desplat. It’s from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, although I’ve forgotten which one. It’s so beautiful and sad and simply perfect for The Foll Stones. There’s a fair amount of bittersweet moments in this novel, and this music is perfection.

Okay more bittersweet coming at you. This piece is called “Remembering Jenny” by Christophe Beck. It’s from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer soundtrack. It’s sooo good. It’s short, but man the feels it evokes. Incidentally, Christophe Beck composed the score for Frozen. Not the songs or anything, but the beautiful music that plays when the parents are lost at sea? Christophe. Also, when the animated Christophe is running across the ice? Christophe. Okay, enough. On to the beauty.

There are many more songs on my list for this novel. As it comes closer to completion, I’ll be sharing more. I hope you enjoyed this peek inside my musical inspiration!

50,000 Words

Another pseudo-version of me – typing.

It’s November, which means it’s NaNoWriMo! What is NaNoWriMo you ask? It’s National Novel Writing Month, when a bunch of writers the world over try to write 50,000 words in one month. Check out their official website here.

I am not doing NaNoWriMo this year, because, life. But I love keeping up with other writers’ progress all the same. It gives me a creative boost just to think about all my fellow writers out there, working so hard this month to realize their dreams.

It’s also got me thinking about 50,000 words. I am not sure I have ever reached that goal. A Chance Encounter in Pemberley Woods is a novella, around 35,000 words. The current draft of Fidelity is 49,500 words. The Foll Stones is stalling out at 49,000. It seems I have trouble hitting that magical number – 50,000.

Why 50,000? Because that’s the average novel length. And to be honest, that’s pretty short. I’ll give you an example. One of my all time favorite books, A Wrinkle in Time, is about 50,000 words. I would not consider that to be a long book.

It’s really got me thinking. Maybe my style is just succinct. In fact, this is not a new thing for me. In college, my papers would rarely reach the requested number of pages. I would fall short by half a page or so, almost every time! I remember worrying about it, and speaking to my professor and advisor, Dr. Germaine Murray. She reassured me that I said what I needed to say and supported my ideas with fewer words, which was perfectly fine.

Now, a novel is not the same as a research paper. However, I’ve started to think about the possibility that I may not write long novels. Maybe shorter work is just my style. As a new writer, it’s hard to know when something is my style, and when something is happening because I’m a novice. For now, I’ll keep working on my 45,000 average. Perhaps I’ll hit that magic number this month, during the amazing creative juju of NaNoWriMo.

A Chance Encounter in Pemberley Woods – Now on Kindle Unlimited!

My book is now available through Kindle Unlimited 🙂

I am super excited to let you all know that A Chance Encounter in Pemberley Woods is now available through Kindle Unlimited. If you don’t know, Kindle Unlimited is a program through Amazon in which you pay one monthly price and can read as many KU books as you want.

I’m excited for this next stage for my little book!